Plans not resolutions

I’m gearing myself up to have my annual appraisal done. The form in use has 10 sections – best practice – from the 80s probably. My motivation is low as in the organisation that employs me, expats in my category are eligible neither for promotions nor pay/increment increases. Several colleagues left last year and the common thread of their reflections was that their efforts were not appreciated.

This resonates – as I feel as much of what I do is taken for granted, criticized or ignored. My work life often feels like scenes from ‘The Office’ or a Dilbert cartoon.

The bulk of my job is a series of tasks that ensures a goal is arrived at or a target is met but it is not a matter of life or death.   Many of these tasks will involve encouraging people who I do not manage to return my email/call to give me some vital piece of information of which they are the sole guardian/generator; or to undertake some action(s) which would be temporarily discomforting but ultimately bring greater benefit.

Sometimes this series of tasks is repeated continuously like gathering information for the monthly service newsletter. And every month, I have moments of ‘if only’ which I quickly turn into ‘next time.’

Then there are the longer term projects, which are often the fruit of a vague discussion about an even vaguer description of a desire to have patients or staff have a certain experience or outcome.  I delineate a project scope and draft a plan where based on experience I estimate resources needed and timescales.  Several of these projects may never get further than that and are quickly replaced by the next great idea. A couple of projects may have significant progress or achieve completion. Its like Jesus’ parable of the sower.

I spend at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at work and often ruminate about aspects of work on my commute to and from the office and on weekends and even while doing the dishes or cooking. So, despite my resentment of the appraisal process I do believe I owe it to myself to reflect on and celebrate my achievements.

My former perfectionist self would have wanted to invest hours for it to be the best ever appraisal form. But being in recovery, I now know that good enough is often good enough and where some see imitation, I see inspiration – so I start off by reading the appraisal from 2016 to see if there are any bits I can be inspired by, ergo, reuse. After all its not like my answers are going to be studied like an English Lit text. This is limited as I’ve moved departments and changed roles in the intervening time but there are some turns of phrases that a good thesaurus will help upcycle (and I still like using a paper one and sifting through the variations in shades of meaning of a word).

One page of the form is dedicated to goal setting which led me to consider New Year’s resolutions. At the beginning of this year, like every year, for fear of failure, I don’t admit to myself or others that I have made resolutions but as the year progresses, I make personal plans and execute them with varying concentrations of discipline and success levels. These plans are often rooted in experiences or events of the previous year.

Failure may be an inevitable outcome of the often hastily decided resolution. In a month notorious for its cold and bleakness so much so that some of our less advanced, hmm, mammalian relatives hibernate, maybe we would be much better off reflecting on the past year, celebrating our achievements however modest and deciding our plans not resolutions for the year. This sort of introspection takes time. Astute decision-making also takes time: to research ideas and stories of inspiration. Planning, realistically thinking about the resources we have to harness and how long it will take us to achieve our goals, takes time.

Maybe our new year’s resolutions do not go to plan because we didn’t have a plan. Although this year isn’t quite so new anymore, we still have 348 days of 2018 remaining and that’s quite a lot of time to set some goals and make, execute, assess progress and re-calibrate plans to achieve them.

What are your goals for 2018 and how’s the planning going?

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